Everyone has a bad day. This is a bad day for this writer:
The United States can step back from international conflicts, but that won’t make them disappear.
Fortunately, there is another power that shares America’s economic and political values, that possesses sophisticated military technology and is also very interested in stopping the progress of fanatical movements, especially in North Africa and the Middle East. That power is Europe.
Don’t laugh! I realize that even a year ago, that statement would have seemed absurd.
What changed her mind? Mali. The sight of France requiring American and NATO aircraft to move a force smaller than one of our brigade combat teams into Mali has inspired this salute to a Great West Hope.
France is shipping in dribs and drabs from separate units. I dare say that a single American Marine Expeditionary Unit--a small force that we sail around (2 or 3 at a time, I believe) just in case we need them--has as much combat power as the French intervention force that has inspired such hope for France's leading role.
Mind you, I'm pleased the French are acting. Good for them. They'll do well. But this is no epic stand at Verdun.
In truth, Europe has very little fighting power. Most of their military is composed of civil servants in uniform.
What little real military power that they can deploy needs outside help to move far from Europe.
Or to fight for very long after insufficient ammunition stocks are depleted.
Don't comfort yourself by saying that Europe can take up the slack if we try to turn away from the world. They can't. Believing they can is absolutely absurd.
And France isn't going to lead them. What's left, Britain? Good luck with that.
At best, Europe's pockets of military excellence can be plugged into our military like tribal auxiliaries of old. But without us, this European "superpower" will be limited to short fights with forces that barely match one of our Marine Expeditionary Units in combat power.